LGH ward shut after outbreak of gastro

LAUNCESTON General Hospital staff are urging visitors with symptoms of gastroenteritis to stay away, after an outbreak saw one ward closed to visitors and new admissions yesterday.

Acting director of clinical services Beth Mulligan said ward 6D was closed to new admissions, with restricted access for visitors and non- essential services.

Dr Mulligan said up to nine patients and six staff had so far been affected. She said the hospital took the outbreak very seriously, as it put already vulnerable patients at risk.

"Any viral gastro or any gastroenteritis can result in quite significant illness in terms of vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and worsening someone's already debilitated state of health," Dr Mulligan said.

"If we've already got sick patients, and they now become sicker because they're vomiting and can't hold anything down and they become more and more dehydrated. We need to take that quite seriously."

She said anyone who had been in contact with the virus should not visit the hospital until at least 48 hours after symptoms stopped.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis typically include diarrhoea, cramps, nausea and vomiting, and could also include fever, headache and muscle pain.

Dr Mulligan said the illness usually ran its course without treatment, but the elderly and the very young were at greater risk.

She said anyone with severe symptoms should seek medical attention, but asked anyone visiting the LGH emergency department to phone in advance so staff could take necessary precautions.

"Don't come unless you really need to come, but don't avoid coming if you need to come," Dr Mulligan said.

The emergency department can be reached via the LGH switchboard on 63487111.

jstephens@examiner.com.au or twitter @jodiestephens1

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